There are no available comprehensive statistics on the capacity and occupancy of the entire reception system, given the different types of accommodation facilities existing in Italy. The following sections contain information and figures on: CPSA / hotspots; governmental reception centres; and CAS.
At the end of 2021, the number of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in the reception system was 78,001, which represents a decrease compared to 2020, when 79,938 asylum seekers were present and to 2019, when the accommodation system hosted 91,424 individuals. Out of the total number, at the end of 2021, 52,185 were in first reception facilities (CAS and first governmental centres) and 25,715 in SAI (former Siproimi).
However, the decrease in the number of persons accommodated and in arrivals of asylum seekers did not lead to an increased tendency to place them in ordinary structures: at the end of 2021, 7 out of 10 asylum seekers were still accommodated in extraordinary centres.
|Occupancy of the reception system: 31 December 2021|
|Hotspots||CAS and first governmental centres||S.A.I.||Total|
Source: Ministry of Interior.
As reported by Open Polis and Action Aid in January 2022, as of 31 December 2020, the total number of accommodation facilities was 9,138 divided as follows: 4,556 CAS facilities, 4,570 Sipiromi/SAI facilities and 12 first reception centres (including hotspots).
The total number of CAS facilities decreased from 2020 when, according to the data obtained by Altreconomia, the number of CAS facilities at 31 July 2020 was 5,565 and also decreased with about 500 units from the 6,004 existing in October 2019. The number of accommodated persons, however, did not drop significantly: at the end of 2021, asylum seekers accommodated in CAS and first reception centres were 52,185, compared to 54,343 at the end of 2020 and to 66,958 at the end of 2019. This confirms that, in 2020 and in 2021 the trend to close small CAS continued, as a consequence of the 2018 Decrees and tender specification schemes, as well as the effect, in 2021, of the new tender specification schemes.
First aid and identification: CPSA / Hotspots
The Reception Decree states that the first aid and identification operations take place in the centres set up in the principal places of disembarkation. These are First Aid and Reception Centres (CPSA), created in 2006 for the purposes of first aid and identification before persons are transferred to other centres, and now formally operating as Hotspots. According to the SOPs, persons should stay in these centres “as short as possible”, but in practice they are accommodated for days or weeks. In 2020 and in 2021, due to the COVID-19 emergency, hotpots have been used for quarantine and isolation measures.
By the end of 2021, four hotspots were operating in Apulia (Taranto) and Sicily (Lampedusa, Pozzallo, and Messina), while the Trapani hotspot, already in 2020. was converted into a CPR. A total of 101 persons were accommodated in hotspots at the end of the year, half in Sicily and half in Apulia.
Governmental first reception centres
The Reception Decree provides that the governmental first reception centres are managed by public local entities, consortia of municipalities and other public or private bodies specialised in the assistance of asylum applicants through public tender.
At the time of writing, first reception centres are established in the following regions in Italy:
|First reception centres by region|
|First reception centre||Region|
|Gorizia (CARA)||Friuli-Venezia Giulia|
|Udine (Caserma Cavarzerani)||Friuli-Venezia Giulia|
|Foggia (Borgo Mezzanone)||Apulia|
|Bari (CARA Palese)||Apulia|
|Crotone (Sant’ Anna)||Calabria|
|Treviso (ex Caserma Serena)||Veneto|
In early 2019, some centres were closed by the Government. This is the case of Castelnuovo di Porto, Rome, Lazio, whose closure, albeit long awaited, has sparked serious criticism for the way in which it happened, and Cona, Venice, Veneto.
The first governmental centre of Mineo (Catania), Sicily, was definitively closed as of 10 July 2019.
As for the other centres, the way in which it was closed, the scarce or no consideration of vulnerable situations and the transfer of the guests to equally low-threshold centres, mainly in the Cara of Isola Capo Rizzuto, Crotone, have raised bitter criticisms also among organizations such as Doctors for Human Rights (Medu), who have called for the centre’s closure for years. 
The Hub centre located in Bologna, Mattei, is now classified as CAS. Others governmental centres working as first accommodation facilities but not classified as first governmental centres by MoI are the one of Fernetti, in Trieste, called Casa Malala, and the one in Pordenone, Caserma Monti, both in Friuli Venezia Giulia. 
In Foggia, even if the centre of Borgo mezzanine is still indicated by MoI as a governmental first reception centre, according to information collected by ASGI in 2020, it has no longer hosted asylum seekers. People living there have been left there without services. The conditions of the modules have been reported as worse than the ones of makeshift camps. As of 25 March 2021, a part of it has been converted in COVID-19 isolation centre.
Villa Sikania, a first accommodation centre in Agrigento, Sicily, was closed in 2019 but, in April 2020, due to the COVID-19 emergency, 70 people disembarked in Lampedusa were placed there in fiduciary isolation. Since then, the centre has become one of the centres for the fiduciary isolation of migrants disembarked in Lampedusa. Cases of prolonged isolation even beyond 30 days have been reported. On 3 September 2020, an Eritrean man, aged 20, died in an attempt to escape from that structure as he was hit on the street and died.
As for Treviso, during 2020, Caserma Serena was sadly at the centre of the news: at the outbreak of the pandemic it was hosting over 300 people who were not moved or distributed in larger spaces. After an operator’s positive COVID-19 test result, all guests were quarantined. This, right at the end of May, was shortly after the end of the lock down which lasted from March to May 2020. The quarantine communication news generated strong protests from some guests. After two months, in August 2020, perhaps due to a quarantine carried out in the same structure with such high numbers of guests, the infections increased from 2 to 244. Of these, 11 were social workers.
When, in mid-August, 5 of the guests were moved to an apartment near the city centre, neighbours started to protest. On 19 August 2020, 4 of the asylum seekers were arrested for the riots in June with allegations of devastation, looting and kidnapping. The 4 were taken to prison and placed in solitary confinement. On November 2020, the youngest of them, not bearing this condition, took his own life. 
In Trieste, the Administrative Court of Friuli Venezia Giulia overturned the result of the tender for the first reception centre located on the border with Fernetti which was won by Ors society. The Court ascertained that Ors was in fact inactive at the time of participation in the call while the second, Versoprobo, had had an excessive score. The Court therefore attributed the call to ICS – Refugee Office which had continued to manage the structure by extension. The centre is now managed by Caritas.
Temporary facilities: CAS
In case of temporary unavailability of places in the first reception centres, the Reception Decree provides the use of Emergency Reception Centres (centri di accoglienza straordinaria, CAS). The CAS system, originally designed as a temporary measure to prepare for transfer to second-line reception, expanded in recent years to the point of being entrenched in the ordinary system. The Reception Decree adopted in August 2015 missed the opportunity to actually change the system and simply renamed these centres from emergency centres to “temporary facilities” (strutture temporanee).
The CAS are identified and activated by the Prefectures, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior. Following Decree Law 113/2018, CAS facilities can be activated only after obtaining the opinion of the local authority on whose territory the structures will be set up. Activation is reserved for emergency cases of substantial arrivals but applies in practice to all situations in which, as it is currently the case, capacity in ordinary centres are not sufficient to meet the reception demand.
Following the reform of the accommodation system made by Decree Law 130/2020, the CAS are specifically designed only for the first accommodation phase for the time “strictly necessary” until the transfer of asylum seekers to the SAI system. The services guaranteed are the same as in the first reception centres (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions).
Decree Law 130/2020, implemented by L 173/2020, refrained from defining time limits for transfer to the proper accommodation system implemented in SAI, thus further endorsing a temporary and precarious approach to reception for asylum seekers. In 2018, the law stated that within one year of the entry into force of the 2018 reform, the Minister of Interior should have monitored the progress of migratory flows with a view to the gradual closure of the CAS centres.
There are over 5,500 CAS established across Italy. As underlined (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions), following the 2018 MoI tender specification schemes most of the small CAS were obliged to close, leaving the accommodation scene to large centres managed by profit organizations or big social cooperatives.
The fact that the majority of available places are currently in CAS, illustrates a reception policy based on leaving asylum seekers in emergency accommodation during the entire asylum procedure. The vagueness of the timing of the transfer from CAS remained unchanged with the 2020 reform and the poor offer of the new tender specification schemes published in February 2021, in addition to the maintenance of the SAI system with a purely voluntary adhesion by the Municipalities, suggest that the situation will not change in the course of 2021.
Second accommodation- SAI system
The second accommodation system remains dedicated mainly to beneficiaries of international protection and unaccompanied minors.
As mentioned, the decision to keep those projects based on a voluntary adhesion by municipalities do not favour the availability of places in this system and it will not favour the immediate access of asylum seekers to the system.
The system now called SAI (system of accommodation and integration) is mainly made by small facilities and apartments in the city centre or not far away from it or well connected to it by public transports (see Content of protection).
Here asylum seekers can benefit of a first level services which include the same services now guaranteed in first accommodation facilities (CAS and governmental centres): in addition to material reception services, health care, social and psychological assistance, linguistic-cultural mediation, Italian language courses, legal orientation and orientation to the territorial services.
The system already existing and the resources not depending by the tender specification schemes make these guarantees of services immediately effective for those who will be able to access this system with no delay. A second level services which include job orientation and professional training are reserved to beneficiaries of international protection, UAMs and beneficiaries of other forms of protection. (See Content of protection)
Private accommodation with families and churches
In addition to the abovementioned reception centres, there is also a network of private accommodation facilities which are not part of the national reception system, provided for example by Catholic or voluntary associations, which support a number of asylum seekers and refugees. Several churches had already accommodated refugees and many others have decided to do so following the Pope’s call of 6 September 2015.
It is very difficult to ascertain the number of available places in these forms of reception. The function of these structures is relevant especially in emergency cases or as integration pathways, following or in lieu of accommodation in S.A.I.
Other projects financed by municipalities or AMIF funds and directed at accommodating families and unaccompanied minors started.
In Bologna, for example, the VESTA project, conceived and developed by the Camelot Social Cooperative – is operational. The project, designed mainly for beneficiaries of international and special protection who reach the age of majority provides a contribution towards the costs to the host family.
The OHANA project, financed by AMIF fund, is developing accommodation at families of unaccompanied minors in the cities of Turin, Milan, Pavia, Venice, Verona Padova, Pordenone, Rome, Bari, Catania and Palermo.
Faced with the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, and the transfer of unaccompanied minors to Italy by voluntary organizations and associations, the Head of Civil Protection issued an operational plan with ordinance no. 876 of 13 March 2022, later integrated by the Commissioner delegated to the management of minors from Ukraine with prot. 4070 of April 13, 2022. The plan provides that the Ministry of Interior (Departments of civil protection, civil liberties and immigration and public security) are informed of the transfer at least 10 days in advance about the personal details of the minors and the modalities for the reception of minors, and that the territorially competent Prefecture immediately activates coordination with the local institutions concerned, including the school office, the health authority and the Juvenile Court for the orderly access to reception measures.
 Source: MoI Cruscotto statistico giornaliero, available at: https://bit.ly/2RGWqzn; See also: Openpolis, “Come funziona l’accoglienza dei migranti in Italia”, 29 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3hltQyo
 Report ActionAid and Openpolis, ibid, 10.
 Article 8(2) Reception Decree, as amended by DL 130/2020, which now directly recalls Article 10- ter TUI
 L 563/1995.
 Article 10-ter TUI, inserted by Article 17 Decree Law 13/2017 and L 46/2017.
 Article 9(2) Reception Decree.
 Redattore Sociale, ‘Non difendiamo i grandi centri ma così è inumano’, 23 January 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2T4Dzt2; ‘Cara Castelnuovo parlamentare blocca un pullman con i migranti’, 23 January 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2W0tn6P.
 Repubblica, Cara di Mineo, ecco perchè non c’è da festeggiare, 10 July 2019, available in Italian at: https://cutt.ly/HyONuy1.
 See MoI, available at: https://bit.ly/3y4dbFm.
 See Apulia Region press release, 25 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3uH02A2.
 See Osservatorio diritti, Villa Sikania: migranti “detenuti” da un mese nel centro di accoglienza, 7 September 2020, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3hjfdvt
 See Treviso Oggi, available at: https://bit.ly/3bmNNAT.
 See La Voce di Venezia, available at: https://bit.ly/3tHVdoT.
 See Meltingpot: “Ex Caserma Serena, Treviso: «Per Chaka, perché la sua morte non sia stata vana, perché la libertà è tutto!»”, available at: https://bit.ly/33J45jf.
 See Il Piccolo, Il Tar restituisce all’ICS l’appalto per Casa Malala, 20 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2R7OBD5.
 Article 11(2) Reception Decree, as amended by Article 12 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018. Prior to the reform, the law provided that the local authorities should only be notified and issue a non-binding opinion.
 Article 11 (3) Reception Decree, as amended by Decree Law 130/2020.
 Articles 10(1) and 11(2) Reception Decree.
 Article 12-bis Decree Law 113/2018, as amended by L 132/2018.
 According to data obtained by MoI by Altreconomia, at 31 JUly 2020 the number of CAS was 5,565.
 According to Article 1 sexies DL 416/1989, as amended by DL 130/2020, local authorities responsible of the SAI projects “can” host in such projects also asylum seekers and beneficiaries of special protection or other protection titles.
 Article 1 sexies (2 bis, a) DL 416/1989, introduced by DL 130/2020.
 Article 1 sexies (2 bis, b) DL 416/1989.
 Plan for unaccompained minors, Ukraine emergency, Prot. 4070 of 13 April 2022.